When I turned twenty-one years old, I got lost in the mountains. This is a very special sentence. Some people would expect it to be dramatic, a great tragedy or an event that drastically changed my life.
In other cases, it makes people think I’m only exaggerating, that maybe I only drifted a little away from the path and then made up some great story about it so my friends would think I’m cool. I suppose the truth is something in the middle. I got genuinely lost, but it wasn’t nearly as terrible as it would make you think.
I guess I should explain a little about my background. First, I’ve been a biker almost my whole life. I learned how to ride my first bike almost as soon as I started walking. And ever since it’s been a huge part of my life. I started like every kid, with the help of my parents, as they took me to the park every weekend.
Soon enough, my parents grew too tired, and I grew too independent. So I started moving about the city on my bike on my own. And I started getting a new bike every few years as I grew up. It was only logical that after a few years I stumbled on the punk scene and began doing tricks on my bike in certain parks as my friends used their skateboards. My mother didn’t well receive our style, yet funnily enough, she reacted almost as bad when I found my way into the extreme sports life.
I love riding my bike. I genuinely did. And I mustn’t have been bad at all. I was a pretty decent rider. I held my ground on races, and I performed well enough on contests. So, naturally, when the opportunity came to try mountain bike riding, I went all for it.
I got the right bike, the perfect equipment, watched the videos, read some about it and started to hang out more often with a group of friends with more experience on the subject. Soon enough I was going every single weekend to the mountains that were close to my city.
It was my favorite thing ever. Getting there early and seeing the world change in front of my very eyes. Going a little too far and having to spend the night camping before coming down the next day. Exploring new routes, going faster and faster, taking exciting jumps or slowly following a scenic road.
There was nothing ugly about it. At least not for me. I didn’t mind a little, or a lot, of mud, dirt and the annoying bugs that found you now and then. Besides, it was a trustworthy zone. I was far from being the first biker to make my way up there, and I never went alone – except for the time I went alone.
I like to think it wasn’t my fault, and it was fate. It just so happened that a beautiful Saturday morning that looked ideal for riding on the mountain, half of my friends couldn’t go and the other half canceled last minute when I was all set and ready to go. I couldn’t have stopped myself even if I had tried.
And maybe I should have tried. Because every minute it looked more and more like a terrible idea. When I woke up and got in the car, it looked like the perfect Saturday morning, but as I got closer and closer to the mountain, I was starting to be proven wrong. Gray clouds started to appear one by one and by the time I was up in my bike the entire sky was a daunting mass of grayness.
I took a deep breath and told myself that I had ridden my bike with rain before. It wasn’t that much of a big deal. You just have to be extra careful and keep your eyes peeled open. I trusted my bike. So I started moving, very fast at the beginning, hoping to make up most of the trail before the rain started.
However, around halfway through a lot of things happened at once.
First, I got tempted by one the scenic trails that looked magical with the dim light of the day. As soon as I got there, I felt the first raindrops hit my skin. Next, I heard something terrible. A distressed feminine voice was calling out, “Lucy! Lucy! Baby where are you?!”
I was chilled to the bones thinking that a little girl was lost and a mother was desperate to find her before the rain became a storm. However, I was surprised to find, after reaching the terrified young woman that Lucy was her dog, and the golden retriever had run away through the bushes, and she couldn’t find her.
My second love, after bike riding, was dogs. So truthfully, I didn’t hesitate to completely ignore the trail and go in search of the lost dog. It was scary; I didn’t know the mountain very well. And when I caught sight of Lucy she started running away from me, of course, I was a stranger. But when the storm finally came, the dog was so terrified that it gladly came with me.
Our trip back down to meet up with her owner and with civilization was one of the scariest moments of my life. It was officially a storm, and the rain made it hard for me to see. And I was totally out of the regulated path, so it was truly a treacherous adventure.
To this day, I think the dog was a lucky charm. Because we made it back down in one piece, not a scratch on us. The owner of the dog cried happily when they were together once again. I heard the woman have an amusingly stern talk with the animal, swearing they’d never come back alone to the mountain. Personally, I took a few weeks off from that particular activity.